Qatar in a fix over alcohol sales during 2022 FIFA World Cup

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Reports coming from Qatari capital said country’s football authorities are still pondering whether to allow alcohol in stadiums in line with FIFA’s mandatory laws while hosting the 2022 World Cup. A senior official insisted he did not see a need for it but indicated the country is in talks with the football’s governing body.

“Alcohol will be allowed in Qatar. We’re discussing with FIFA the extent of it and where exactly. You’ve got different perspectives coming out of Brazil, England and Russia. There’s obviously a serious issue, and it’s something we’re looking into,” 2022 Supreme Committee Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi told newsmen at a sports security conference in Doha.

“For me personally, I don’t see the reason for it being in the stadiums, but it’s something we’re discussing with FIFA,” he added.

Qatar, a tiny Muslim nation neighbouring conservative Saudi Arabia, allows the sale of alcohol in five-star hotels only.

FIFA insists it will defend the commercial rights of its sponsors, including Budweiser, which will sponsor the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in Russia and Qatar respectively.

“It’s important for us to ensure that everyone who comes has a great time and enjoys themselves, while at the same time showcasing the culture of the Arab world,” Thawadi said.

Alcoholic Spat

English Premier League chairman Dave Richards on Wednesday attacked FIFA at a conference in Qatar over its ambiguity regarding hosting criteria and accused the world governing body of wasting its money and resources.

“Why couldn’t they (FIFA) have said, we want to take it to the Gulf, to the eastern bloc? We spent 19 million pounds on that bid,” added Richards in a reference to Qatar also winning the bid for the 2022 finals. When we went for it everybody believed we had a chance. But as we went through it a pattern emerged that suggested maybe we didn’t,” the head of world’s top football league said in his speech that took FIFA and other football executives by surprise.

In an apparent swipe at Qatari hosting of the 2022 World Cup, he raised the question of extreme summer temperatures affecting the players and fans.

“I think Qatar did a fantastic job in getting the World Cup but the big downside is the weather. Can we play a World Cup in June?

“There are thousands and thousands of fans to consider and you have to look at it. My medical people in England have talked about the effect (the heat) will have on the players but you’ve also got to look beyond the players to the fans.”

The Englishman also quizzed the availability of alcohol that would need to be addressed well ahead of 2022.

“If you don’t do something about it you’re starting to bury your head in the sand a bit,” he said. “You’ve got to address it.

“In terms of (balancing) cultures there’s got to be a happy medium. The English will acknowledge the culture of the Gulf but in England (a beer) is our tradition, it’s part of our heritage.”

Several reports suggested he also ridiculed FIFA and UEFA for denying England its basic football rights.

“England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game,” Richards said.

“Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said, you’re liars, and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA.

“Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more.”

Qatar took the world by surprise when it was awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup during a vote in Switzerland in December 2010. Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States were edged out during the controversial secret ballot.

The gas-rich nation has promised to build solar-powered, air-conditioned stadiums to overcome the sweltering summer heat along with improving public infrastructure and housing facilities for the event.

(Source: Reuters)

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